Goodreads Question #4: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Victor D. Lopez Writer’s block has never been a significant issue for me, but like all writers there are times when words simply won’t flow. If I stare at a blank screen or reread previous pages in an attempt to force the issue, it only results in frustration. So I get up. make myself a cup of coffee or tea, grab a piece of fruit, or even turn on the news, answer emails or browse the web for a little while. Taking my conscious mind off writing allows me to mentally reboot. Ten minutes later, or perhaps an hour or two, I’m able to get back to work and almost always enter once more into a state of “flow” where the world disappears and I can write with few interruptions until the next bump in the road (or bleary eyes) forces me to step back again.

I have the good fortune to choose what I write about. Writing fiction or poetry (when I can spare the time) is always simply a joy. I completed my last published short story (Mars: genesis 2.0) while in Spain last summer in the wee hours of the morning on my father in law-s kitchen on a cheap tablet with an even cheaper, too-small keyboard/case over a three day period. No problem there other than sleep interfering with the process.

My non-fiction, which is overwhelmingly where I live as a writer, is different. My research agenda currently has about a dozen different topics in various stages of research. The paper I’m currently researching and writing consists of a 12-page table with about 260 footnotes and that’s just general background–the paper itself will be built on the foundation of that research but has a long way to go before it is completed. Months of research that is painstaking and, frankly, sometimes quite dull, no matter how important the subject, are required just to get me to the point where I can begin writing the paper, taking many coffee breaks and rounds of grazing while working on the task. But no matter how tedious, difficult and painstaking the process may be for any given project, the end product always makes the process worthwhile. If nobody read what I write, I would still soldier on. Nothing else compares with the satisfaction of creating something that did not exist before, be it fiction or non-fiction. The world is renewed, re-envisioned, remade anew through that process for both writer and reader. Nothing beats that!

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